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Showing posts from August, 2010

Out of Nowhere

W. Ross Clites
Your City Sports-Cleveland


Saint Louis, MISSOURI--Roy Halladay became the odds-on favorite to win the 2010 National League Cy Young Award when he signed with the Phillies last December. Switching to the Senior Circuit, where the opposing pitcher would only add to his strikeout total, made him an enticing pick.

Most experts had him as the winner. Few expected him to win it quite like this.

Many, myself included, gave up on his chances early. Nothing seemed to go smoothly for the Phillies or Halladay. He took several tough-luck losses in quick succession and his walk total began to mount, uncharacteristically.

By the end of July, Halladay already had a number eight hanging in his loss column. This was more defeats than he usually has in an entire season; Halladay had only nine losses in 2005 and 2006 combined.

His struggles were only part of the reason he appeared to be a long-shot by the All-Star Break. The other piece of the equation was a certain ace in Colorado named Ubaldo…

NL Rookie of the Year Heats Up

W. Ross Clites
Your City Sports-Cleveland


You have to go back to 2003 to find the last National League Rookie of the Year Award that was handed out to a pitcher. Jaime Garcia is doing everything in his power to end the six-year drought. His Sunday outing, a complete-game 9-0 victory against the Giants, brought his name back into the RoY discussion.

2010 was supposed to be the year of Steven Strasburg and Aroldis Chapman. Yet these two prodigies have combined for just twelve Major League starts and two trips to the Disabled List (all statistics accumulated by Strasburg alone).

In effect, the RoY predictions of baseball insiders were looking towards the wrong horizon for the next great National League pitcher. The incredible start of a 24 year-old Cardinal caught the entire Major Leagues off-guard--including the St. Louis organization.

Unfortunately for Garcia, there was one position player on everyone’s radar in Spring Training that has panned out. The Braves' Jason Heyward burst on the…

Part II: Highly Conditional Love (A Mockumentary)

W. Ross Clites
Your City Sports-Cleveland


Saint Louis, MISSOURI--Are we that na├»ve to believe that a confession of “past” usage in a press conference or 60 Minutes segment signifies that the player is currently clean? This country is too quick to forgive. If someone says “I’m sorry, I did it” the smoke screen goes up for that player to go right back to cheating.

You think Jason Giambi is not back to using some type of performance-enhancer? Do you think Alex Rodriguez has ever stopped using? Short of an angel on their shoulder, there is nothing in place for them to change.

What needs to be put into perspective is the behavior that drives these people to cheat. We are talking about people that have very limited roles in society after baseball. Professional athletes have a small window of relevance. Their careers are essentially a cash grab; stockpiling as much fame, notoriety, and millions--like a squirrel nearing winter--to hopefully last for decades to come.

If some drug-assisted records a…

Part I: Inconvenient Truth

W. Ross Clites
Your City Sports-Cleveland


Saint Louis, MISSOURI--Scientists are always going to be one step ahead of those who police performance-enhancing drugs in sports. Even with new testing working its way through professional ranks, the situation will continue to play out like a cheesy Dukes of Hazzard episode.

First it was steroids, and now it is human growth hormone. It is hard to believe that players did not make transition along with their suppliers. Why quit cold turkey when you can simply move on to the next best stealthy product?

Cheating follows the path of least resistance. MLB Commissioner Bud Selig can block one avenue, but there are side streets and alleys that scumbag doctors and ex-con personal trainers will be happy to explore. Baseball would do better than its steroid investigations if it keeps the lid on the HGH version of Pandora’s Box.

By not fully disclosing the 104 names that tested positive for PEDs in 2003, it shows that Major League Baseball wishes they never …

Ten Years Down and Already Cooperstown-Bound

W. Ross Clites
Your City Sports-Cleveland
Saint Louis, MISSOURI--The biggest compliment that is bestowed on any professional athlete is election into their respective Hall of Fame. Inclusion into the Hall states that he or she is among the top 1% of the 1% that plays a sport for a living. If you have ever questioned the greatness of Albert Pujols, find solace in this: he could quit playing baseball tomorrow and still get into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
The numbers do not lie. Pujols has done things in ten short years that many wish to emulate--even baseball’s elite.

People are supposed to scratch and claw for 20 hard seasons to maybe wind up in the discussion for Hall of Fame induction. Not Pujols. His body of work allows him to comfortably coast into Cooperstown on the mediocrity train, or even hang it up right now. But do not expect to see such an occurrence from the three-time MVP. Complacency is his only enemy.

Pujols’ work ethic borders on obsessive compulsive, in the most complementa…